Experienced do-it-yourselfer, we see you eyeing that gorgeous hardwood flooring. Yes, it would look great in the spare bedroom you decided to convert to a study/home office. Since you plan to do the rest of the work, including painting the ceiling and the walls, plus demolishing the icky old 1980s carpet (burnt orange on the floor?), you want to install your new hardwood floors, too.
Installing hardwood floors takes time, patience, and the right tools. While woodworking offers many areas where you can substitute one tool for another, hardwood floor installation doesn't provide one of those opportunities. Look at the tools you'll need to do the job right.
Tools for Installing Hardwood Floors
Some of the tools for installing hardwood flooring, an experienced DIY-er probably already owns. What falls into this category?
- Tape Measure
- Push broom
- Hand Saw
That's it for the basic tools, though. If you recently began doing DIY projects or typically use hand tools to do everything, installing your own hardwood flooring provides the ideal opportunity to purchase all those excellent power tools you don't already own. That includes not one but three different saws you'll need.
Before we get to the comprehensive list and a bit about the use of each tool, let's clarify something. You would require these tools to install actual hardwood floors, not laminate or assembly flooring, which refers to flooring that fits together at a previously cut joining point. Click and lock or tongue and groove flooring doesn't require these same tools. Only true hardwood planks require all of this. The easy-to-assemble flooring uses laminate or engineered hardwood.
Tools You May Need to Add to Your DIY Kit
Those with some DIY experience may already own a few of these items, but for those starting out, many of these power tools and woodworking essentials can be useful in the future.
Chalk lets you mark the location of floor joists without making hard-to-clean marks on your flooring. Forget trying to eyeball where to nail your floorboards. Use one of these to mark the spot.
The first of the saws you'll need, the jamb saw, help you remove the bottom of the door casing to install flooring flush with the walls. Use this saw with its horizontal blade when installing any type of floor.
Saw number two you'll need; the table saw uses a circular blade vertically mounted to make it easier to make straight cuts to boards. The adjustable blade lets you raise or lower it to cut varying thicknesses of wood. Avoid doing this with a handsaw since that method often creates uneven cuts.
Jigsaws cut irregular lines and curves. If you need to cut a set of boards to fit around a column, you'd use a jigsaw to make the rounded cuts. Use them for cutting boards to fit around a door casing.
Far from a manicure kit, this gadget looks like an ice pick but drives nails below the surface of hardwood. Doing this creates a finished look and alleviates the chance that you might snag your sock on a raised nail.
A power tool that is used to install a hardwood floor. This is primarily designed for trim work that does not mar the surface look of the wood.
You'll need a pry bar to remove the existing flooring. Other names this goes by include a pinch bar, crowbar, and price bar. Choose one crafted of medium-carbon steel or titanium for the best results. Consider the job you'll use this for since pry bars come in a variety of sizes.
It looks like a hammer, but you don't use a mallet to drive nails. Instead, use a mallet's large rubber or wood head to tap pieces of wood firmly into place. The rubber against wood or wood against wood won't damage the hardwood planks.
Like a floor nailer but made for use in many situations, the nail gun lets you drive nails easily into the trim of your project. Most nail guns use compressed air for power. Attach a strip of nails to the feeder of the nail gun to work quickly. Take extra safety precautions when using these dangerous tools, though.
Use a feather board with your table saw to protect your hands and fingers. It allows you to safely push a board past the saw blade without bringing your hands near the blade.
Wood Moisture Meter
Use a wood moisture meter to measure the moisture in the wood planks before working with them. Wood must be completely dry before you lay it. Installing wet wood causes shrinking, buckling, or cracking to occur. Hold this meter against the wood to measure moisture. Five to 12% readings are considered normal, and up to 17% is considered acceptable.
Do you need to install hardwood directly onto cement/concrete slab flooring? Use a concrete RH test to ensure the concrete has a low enough moisture content for the installation. You may need fans to dry the floor before installing your hardwood. A concrete slab needs to be below 75% RH.
Use wood spacers while installing the flooring planks so your new wood floor can contract and expand safely during weather changes. When the weather changes, the floor can buckle without these tiny spaces between them.
Use a tapping block in conjunction with a mallet to place your last few boards. This ensures your boards don't incur damage. Some tapping blocks feature a groove so the edge fits onto the board and won't slip out of place.
You'll need a sander to provide your floor with that finished professional look. Sanding the floor removes splinters and hones the finish. Choose a large pad random orbital sander for the quickest results that won't damage your flooring.
Many of the tools mentioned use pneumatic methods to feed nails and snap them into place. You'll need an air compressor to run these power tools.
After you sweep, remove all vestiges of debris and sawdust by using a shop vac. Your household vacuum cleaner won't do the trick.
Shopping for Your Hardwoods
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